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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Report: North Korea to sell minisubs to Iran

North Korea is preparing to sell minisubmarines to Iran, according to Japan’s Sankei Shimbun. The minisubs wouldlikely be deployed in the strategic Straits of Hormuz through which much of the world's oil transits.

The newspaper reported Jan. 18 that North Korea is negotiating to sell the submarines in exchange for debts incurred by Pyongyang, quoting a source familiar with North Korea affairs.

The report said Iran is urging North Korea to upgrade existing North Korean small submarines as a way for Iran to bolster its naval power.

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“Perhaps, Iran needs to improve the performance of the submarines for the purpose of tightening security,” following growing tensions in Strait of Hormuz, the source said.

Negotiations between the two nations were held in February and July of last year.

The report said North Korea is believed to have some 50 small submarines.

Iran has several Russian-made Kilo-class submarines.

U.S. intelligence officials said Iran purchased gunboats from North Korea in 2002.

A U.S. official confirmed that North Korea is continuing to sell weapons to Iran but did not specify what type.

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